As I…mature…I am always looking for ways to keep my skin supple and vibrant, naturally. I had been hearing about this ancient skin massage called “gua sha” and decided to check it out. Let me warn you right here. Do not search “gua sha” unless you want to scare yourself silly with photos of an aggressive ancient body massage method that leaves the skin beet red from a method known as “scraping.” Intended to help stimulate blood flow and drain the lymphatic system, this therapy pre-dates acupuncture. I have had body scraping on my back and while it felt great, my husband saw the bruises and joked that he hoped the other guy looked worse.
That’s not what I am talking about here. Facial “gua sha” is gentle…incredible really, with its results. Reading about it in Vogue, I found this information:
“Gua sha is so different when used on the face, if you’ve ever had the traditional massage,” explains New York–based “gua sha” facial specialist Britta Plug. “We’re not doing that vigorous back-and-forth motion and causing a lot of friction. It’s a more gentle glide and a slight pull on the face—it’s all about directionality with this tool and following the meridians of the body,” she says, referencing the life force paths that are a cornerstone of Chinese medicine.
Plug has been using “gua sha” tools in her holistic facial practice for the last three years, helping clients relieve nearly every skin condition from rosacea to dryness and adult acne. She even says she has clients who claim that her “gua sha” treatments have cured their TMJ. “With this type of treatment, we’re moving lymph, which carries away toxins or in this case, blackheads, and stimulating the chi or prana,” Plug says. “It tones the muscles and firms the skin, and, plus, it’s deeply relaxing. This is one of the biggest benefits of “gua sha” because when the client is receiving it, they get to really sink into that parasympathetic nervous system.”
I was intrigued. I adore all things Chinese medicine and live my life according to these ancient principles of balance. I wanted to experience the impact on my skin; decide if it had merit and pass it on to all of you if it did.
Promises of more elastic skin and never a puffy under-eye had me at “never.” Said to promote better absorption of skincare products, lymphatic drainage, reduce dark circles and puffiness, “gua sha” has turned out to be a soothing method of self-care that I can commit to fully.
I confess to being a bit leery of whom or what touches my skin. Massages and facials are not pools I dive into, but rather dip my toes in very cautiously. I’m very careful with my self-care and not many people get my vote of confidence. I have had some bad facial experiences that were anything but relaxing. I get it; I’m touchy when it comes to my skin (pun fully intended). So I did some investigating and discovered that I could buy the tools I needed and with some guidance, perform this ancient ritual for my skin in the peace and quiet of my own home.
I ordered a “gua sha” set of rose quartz tools: a roller and a scraper. I watched Britta Plug’s tutorials on Instagram and got to work “gua-sha-ing” my face, jawline and neck.
At first, I thought it was simply soothing to roll this cool rose quartz roller over my face, neck and jawline in a specific pattern, following the principles of Chinese medicine. It felt great after a long day and took only a few minutes. Of course, I see my face every day so I couldn’t really tell what, if anything, was happening. But then people began to ask me what I was doing with my skin because I “looked great.”
Wait…what? Could this little rose quartz roller have an impact?
Well, duh, Christina. Of course it did. Knowing full well that our face reflects the health and function of every single organ, this gently stimulating little roller was helping my little organs do their jobs more effectively so coupled with eating well, I had found the magic combo for perfect skin that’s aging pretty darn well. And while there’s no medical evidence that “gua sha” can work for you to help create great, youthful skin, Chinese medicine teaches us that it can. There’s no medical evidence that the dark circles under your eyes reflect the health of your kidneys, but they do.
So…How do you “Gua Sha”?
“Gua sha” itself translates as “scraping” and can be used all across the body to stimulate circulation and our chakras. While body scraping is a bit…aggressive, facial “gua sha” is gentler.
The aim of “gua sha” is to use the different sides of the thin stone tool (which has curved edges and a heart shaped indentation at one end) to rake across the skin gently and fit around the edges of the jaw line, across your forehead and cheekbones.
The “gua sha” roller creates a massaging effect, so it’s down to preference which tool you choose. I am in love with the roller as I find it to be a bit more gentle and relaxing that the stone tool. I use the roller every day and the tool once in a while.
The key to success in seeing results is simple: The motion to use with both the roller and “gua sha” scraping tool is to move upward and outward across your face. Be gentle. Don’t drag or pull the skin or you’ll be sore. The point is to feel stimulated and relaxed, not sore and red.
To “gua sha” effectively, roll or scrape each area of the face 9-10 times each area, following the diagram with this blog. Post your pics and let me know what you think. I’m dying to hear if you love this as I do!